1984 VW Vanagon Westfalia

David Kelly

This is the replacement 1984 VW Vanagon Westfalia camper we built. We had survived a head-on collision in our earlier 1984 Westfalia. We would have owned that one for 20 years if it had made it 6 months more. A 2018 Chevy Tahoe was pulling into a left turn lane and slowing down, so we proceeded into an intersection on a green light when the Tahoe gunned it and turned right in front of us. The crash mashed the Tahoe up to the windshield on the passenger side as we hit it in the driver's corner.

The 5 of us inside only had seat belt bruises. It didn't break the windshield on the Vanagon although it popped the windshield seal so it fell out and smashed on the pavement. The impact pushed the dash back an inch. The front corner was sprung but the frame was not bent. The Tahoe was totaled.

We bought an automatic Vanagon camper built 3 months earlier than our other one that had the same paint and was also a Wolfsburg Edition. It had no engine or transmission. The new bus had been heavily accessorized. It had many dents and lots of holes drilled into the body. The prior owner made it their own I guess. The top had been closed with the canvas sticking out and the Arizona sun had ruined it. The interior had been cut up. Cats had been sleeping in it, so the interior was not the best. The dash even had multiple holes drilled in it. We put our engine, manual transmission drivetrain and interior in it.

With an amazing amount of help from the Arizona Bus Club, we are members, we were able to complete the bus as you see it in about a year with a tremendous amount of JBugs parts! The Club really stepped up and deserves our many thanks.

Interestingly, I had hit a cow at 50mph about 12 years earlier in our old one. That happened in rural southwestern Nevada. It happened at nighttime and I hadn't seen a car or had cell service for about 2 1/2 hours. I came over a rise and there were 7 cows standing in the road right in front of me. I aimed for the gap and hit one hard. Oh shoot, my bus is wrecked! I made sure the cow wasn't suffering (it wasn't).

2.2L engine built by me-the bus will do 100mph
S+S merged exhaust with Walker muffler
Manual transmission conversion
Bilstein shocks
Braided stainless DOT brake lines on all 4 wheels
Brembo front brake pads and ceramic rear brake shoes
DOT 4 brake fluid
Powder coated wheels
195R14 8-Ply rated tires
All new door, window, and top seals
Kilmat sound insulation installed
Body, metal, and paint work by Jeramiah Polynone
Paint supplied by Space Age in Mesa